Open the Streets!

Originally Published : May 20, 2020

Open ‘Em Up!!!!

Someone told me today that Memorial Day Weekend is coming up.  It was the first I was hearing of it.  Once it settled in that summer was on its way, I quickly started feeling much more optimistic.  Warm weather is still in the cards. Trees and gardens and allergies are flourishing.  The city smells like barbecues and BO. 

It’s Summer.  Shouldn’t your customers be meeting for lovely drinks and high margin spritzes at your spacious outdoor cafe? Isn’t it important that we revive their old habit of going to restaurants and bars again?  We need to give them confidence in us and if we can make them feel safe and secure outside, that’s a good first step.  Because if they sit outside, they will still need to venture indoors.  To use the restroom. To get out of the rain.  They will have to step inside, into your place and the will see how tight it is in there and how you are all about safety and, one pee break at a time, the masses will start to inch back inside the restaurant. Eventually, we will have them both in and out which would be a monumental step in our climb back.

How do we get this done?  We certainly can’t rely on our lame duck Mayor to stick his neck out for us.  He hasn’t before, so why would he now?  He has done less than little for the industry since he took office and has never been any kind of friend to restaurants. He just doesn’t care. We had a surcharge bill ready to go with very little opposition.  He went out of his way to kill it.  He has yet to sign the 1932 Bill, so we are still waiting on that. He eats pizza with a fork and knife for crying out loud!  C’mon already.

We have to go to City Council to get it done.  They are capable of bringing important issues to the Mayor’s desk and forcing him to engage.  So, let’s push hard for this issue like we did with 1932.  Contact your Council Member and let them know that you support Open Streets and that we need places outside to serve like, yesterday.  Summer is here.  This could save us.  Get it done now.

Here is the link to find your Council Member.  They are your new best customer.

Here is where to find yours.

Henry Rinehart has been one of the pioneers of this movement and he has created a video featuring many of you, about Open Streets and what it can look like here in NYC.  I urge you to watch it for a healthy dose of inspiration and to see the future of outdoor dining in NYC.

And here’s Henry to introduce the video:

Open Streets by Henry Rinehart

I love the restaurant business because we all do what we can. Then we clean up, drink, rest, and come back to start again the next morning. And in a crisis, we do what it is that we can. 

When COVID-19 arrived in NYC, I did not have a restaurant to take care of. I was safe, but isolated in Harlem with my wife, young son, and aging parents. I was inspired by David’s emails, and the moving quotes from all of you to read everything I could get my hands on about my colleagues and what they were going through. I was moved to act. To do what I can.

I made this film to help my community in its hour of need. It’s been months, but I think we are all gaining an appreciation of the role of Open Streets in the health of our communities and our businesses. This film started out to document our crisis, but Open Streets have been gaining traction so fast that it has become a film about vision, hope and togetherness. Of course, Open Streets mattered to us before ‘Rona, and it is even more true now. NYC restaurants need Open Streets NOW.

Watch it here:

PPP Update:  Mnooch testified before the Senate Banking Committee and once again said he wanted to make a “technical fix” to the PPP by extending the use period from 8 weeks. Not sure why he is so hung up on calling it a technical fix.  Maybe because it sounds slight and insignificant and by referring to the fix as a technicality rather than a retooling of the blunder that is the PPP in its current state, makes him feel better.  We don’t care what you call it or who’s to blame, just fix the damn thing already Mnooch so we can move on to proper planning.

Landy Update:  You will be happy to hear that Starbucks, Chipotle, Shake Shack and all the other big retail restaurants are in the same boat as all of us and they are demanding that Landy cut them a break on rent.  You would think that when they ask for a break, Landy would work with them right? Well, according to an article in todays WSJ, the general response was “we are not offering forgiveness”.  Landy can be so blunt and rude but that’s ok.  As tenants continue to put the pressure on them, they will have to partner with all of us in some way or they will be screwed.  They can’t hold out forever, but they sure are tough nuts to crack.

Here’s a bizarre video of Mick Jagger and David Bowie collaborating on Dancin’ in the Street in all their ’90’s glory:

Good Night,